I will start out saying that I could write days about company culture and the lessons I have learned over the years. Not that I understand everything about business culture, but it has really been something near and dear to my heart for a long time. To me, it is one of those things that can make or break a business from the inside out.
To start out, what is culture? Depending on who you ask, it could be a variety of different things. It could be the vision and purpose of a business. It could be the day to day communication within a company. How about the team dynamics? The environment of the business? Effective, inspiring leadership? The list could go on and on. You hear a lot of people talk about the culture of great businesses like Zappos, Google, Apple, even Chick-fil- a. They are fun, enjoyable, professional, customer-focused, have great office environments, etc. Even though they are tremendously different business models and types they do have one very important thing in common – their people.
To me, culture comes down to one simple part of the business that is not so simple – the people. The people within your business are the culture of your business. They are the voice, the look, the “feel”, the reflection, thoughts, the strategy of your company. This is why the type of people and, really, the attitude of your people are so important when you hire. You hire people to do a specific job, but you also hire people to be an ambassador for the business. That’s right, every employee within a business is representative of the mind, heart, and hands of that company. Think about it for a second, if a customer interacts with your company and they only talk to a sales rep, a receptionist, or shipping agent, doesn’t that individual become the business to that customer? So it is with the culture of a business. The people become the culture representatives to the public. What type of people do you hire? Are you looking for a specific type of personality, way of thinking, or vibe they give off? Then you are looking to hire for your culture.
As the new kid on the block here at VoiceNation, I have been spending a few weeks now getting immersed in the culture of the business. That is how important understanding the culture around here is to the leadership and the way of doing business. We even have a Culture Coach. (Which, I personally think is awesome!) In the hiring process, we look for individuals who can do the job, but we look for so much more. We want people who want to grow and learn. We want people who are positive and uplifting, even under stress. We want people who will work hard, but understand the balance of playing hard also. We want employees that are respectful to each other, the customers, and the community. And we want people who are passionate, innovative, and strive for excellence in everything they do. These facets and “ideas” are ingrained in who VoiceNation is and how we do business in all areas.
A business can say it is something or want to have a specific type of culture, but without the right people who embrace the core of what the business is at the heart of it, it will be impossible to achieve. So, what type of culture is your business striving to have? How would you explain it? What are its characteristics? If these are difficult answers to come up with, it might be a good time, here at the end of the year, to take a step back and begin nailing it down. Oh, and be sure to involve the people in your company, after all, they are the face of your culture.